Medical doctors, engineers, lawyers, researcher, teachers - they all do important things and need training, selection and accountability.
Luckily, developers never have to write MCAS software for Boeing, so we can hang out on HN where you can be a Senior Engineer after a 6 months bootcamp and 2 years of stack overflow.
I don't think anybody is arguing about what people do for themselves, but advertising yourself as a developer when you might have no experience or training, misleads people. Gives the rest of us a bad name.
This is real a problem for freelance developers. In the 15 years or so I've been doing it, I've heard at least 30 stories of how "the last guy" critically underdelivered, and there's basically an expectation I'm going to run off with their cash. I relieve them of this pretty rapidly but it's a very defensive process.
As developers we’re lucky enough to be able to find industries where our education/certications doesn’t matter. On the other hand, some niches which could use an actual licensed training program.
You could in theory teach yourself enough about the medical field to know more than a doctor, still the doctor has a piece of paper saying that someone checked his or her qualifications. Even a CS degree doesn’t tell you anything about a persons abilities to write software.
Then you're a programmer, not a doctor.
still the doctor has a piece of paper saying that some checked his or her qualifications
Yes. That's how we keep the frauds and whackjobs from killing people.
"Gatekeeping" is a dirty word on HN, but it also has its usefulness. We don't let just anyone drive a car, even if they really really really think they know how. You have to have a license.
Too bad no one ever told Microsoft about that...
The problem here is "developing" is so loose and unique that it's difficult for me to even imagine a useful certification. Lets take easy examples - can someone make a store front to handle incoming transactions? Well firstly that tells me nothing of the scalability, security and mostly importantly maintainability of the software. It tells me nothing about the language of choice, assuming i care.. which you usually do if there's a team involved and you're trying to integrate a new employee.
But even if we ignore those we still have the biggest issue that i see; software development tends to be unicorns, imo. Every project i've worked on is largely unique, and while there is overlap - eg all of it is APIs, the quality of the work (if i was to self judge) was solving the problems inside the "Web API CRUD".
In a building analogy - i don't care that you can build a house to spec. I care that you can architect the floor plan, decide features yourself, future proof as best you can, etc.
Perhaps there's some level of architect certification that matches this, no idea. But i care about peoples generic ability to problem solve, to find information and suss out real application. Their ability to build a house according to spec is of little to no interest to me.
> a title which means so little in the first place
I agree, call yourself whatever you want.
At the same time, expect to get a few quizzical looks from potential employers or clients looking for a developer when you tell them you can't actually code.
There is apparently no limit to how false an equivalence can become.
... as opposed to calling yourself a developer when you have no software education (or even actual experience)?
There's actually a word for calling yourself something that you aren't: fraud.
However I don’t understand how this relates to the article. Could you elaborate?
E.g. how would you address the difficulties described in the text?
> This wouldn’t have been a major problem unless it affected the entire industry: (...)
Q: What is the most often-overlooked risk in software engineering?
A: Incompetent programmers. There are estimates that the number of programmers needed in the U.S. exceeds 200,000. This is entirely misleading. It is not a quantity problem; we have a quality problem. One bad programmer can easily create two new jobs a year. Hiring more bad programmers will just increase our perceived need for them. If we had more good programmers, and could easily identify them, we would need fewer, not more.
... most software developers will have direct exposure to/experience with one or more such incompetent programmers.
Unfortunately the nature of language combined with personally assigned titles means that there's no point in even trying because, i think, it's impossible. Call yourself whatever you want. I'm still going to need to vet it for myself if i need to hire you.
For example what if I called myself a Navy Seal and combat veteran even though I'm not? That would be dishonorable and insulting to people who actually risked their lives.
Like all the "engineers" on HN who are really just programmers. There's a word that's been bastardized over the last three decades.
It used to be a common joke: A garbage man is a "sanitation engineer." A housewife is a "domestic engineer." A farmer is an "agricultural engineer." Then for some reason, the SV bubble latched on to "software engineer," without understanding that it was supposed to be a joke. Maybe they felt bad because they had to work with electrical engineers.
I ran into a guy in a bar once who introduced himself as a "software engineer." I asked what engineering board licensed him to use that title. He said none, but that he's an "engineer" because he designs complex systems.
Structural engineer = engineer. Electrical engineer = engineer. Architectural engineer = engineer. Guy who pushes buttons = programmer.
California state law defines engineer: "consultation, investigation, evaluation, planning or design of public or private utilities, structures, machines, processes, circuits, buildings, equipment or projects, and supervision of construction"
Why? Because the ability to program is a subset of what a software engineer needs to be able to do. Granted, it's an IMPORTANT subset, but to create, or "engineer" good software on any truly useful scale, one needs other very, very important skills.
Engineering is based on the idea that you are using some degree of scientifically sound principle to create something in practice. That applies to creating software. There are clear, scientifically rigorous axioms, corollaries, etc that dictate ways that software can be written effectively, from the basic instructions a computer can process all the way up to the highest levels of abstraction. Software standards are developed that define ways that software should be written to take advantage of this scientific resource, and a huge part of writing effective and useful software is managing how one spends their time creating, refactoring, testing, and deploying/publishing that software. That is NOT an easy problem, and it is distinct from programming in and of itself.
The idea that a "board" has to exist to say whether or not something is an engineering practice doesn't hold water because it's the science underpinning the practice that makes it engineering.
It started as a joke? I had no idea. Is there a definitive source or initial point where it all started? Link or story perhaps?
It's pre-web. No links. You had to be there.
Not quite. Stolen valor can only be charged when it's provable that the person in question benefited in some way, usually financially, from the lie.
Don't get me wrong, it's a dickish and incredibly disrespectful thing to do, but it isn't illegal in and of itself.
Edit: IANAL, but I've read a good bit about this particular subject.
I'm saying that you can't call yourself whatever you want in all cases. I use an extreme example to illustrate that it's not so clear cut. Giving yourself titles doesn't only apply to developers and it's not so clear cut why we can only be so laissez faire in software but not in other certain fields.
And you using a legally protected status to talk about developers is not relevant and a poor analogy but ok. You using veterans is low.
You're just trying to start a witch hunt. Not so far from pointing at me and shouting "racist" for no reason. Doing that is not just low it's vile.
And then when confronted on it, you're now accusing me of "Starting a witch hunt" when in fact I just called out your actions directly. I never called you racist - you're bringing up nonsense to pretend you're virtuous when you're not.
And I'm ok with being called vile by someone with obviously incredibly poor judgement.
First off you're a liar. The legislation only extends to people who used it for profit so you can legally call yourself a veteran. You lied to my face or you don't know what you're talking about. Pick one.
Second when does using veterans as an example make me low? It doesn't I just used it as an example to show how it's WRONG. get it? Probably not, people like you are incapable of knowing the difference.
You're twisting it. I never said you called me racist but what you're doing is similar. You're calling out something as insensitive when it is in no way insensitive. I could have use doctor but I chose not to because veterans were the first thing that came to my mind as wrong to impersonate. They have a term for people like you who go around starting wars for infractions that aren't even infractions: Social Justice Warriors. Get off your high horse.
>And I'm ok with being called vile by someone with obviously incredibly poor judgement.
It is vile. You're accusing me of something evil and wrong. People who don't take the time to read into what's truly going on end up burning the witch in a witch hunt. Your words are deceptive and have the possibility of stringing along a mob in this manner.
I think you need help with differentiating. I know some good therapists that can help you and can send you some recommendations.
Also it's pretty low of you to ask me to use doctors in place of veterans, doctors save more lives than veterans. Veterans usually have actually killed and slaughtered people including many people of my race and members of my family (vietnam war). You should've told me to use something like lawyers. Your arrogance of telling me to use doctors is off the charts. I wouldn't call it vile, I would call it pure delusion, that or you truly are an evil person for placing people responsible for human slaughter above people who save lives. You honoring people who killed members of my family is not just vile, it's disgusting and morally reprehensible. I don't think you did it on purpose though.
Again you need help. Let me know if you need recommendations for therapy (not a joke).
Feel free to gatekeep about what a "real" developer is but in the end you all just make someone else's APIs talk to each other. Oh and grind Leetcode for interviews.
Everything else are degrees of skill/competence.
Funny, I always thought of that as an software engineer's job.
It's the equivalent of a medical professional saying their field just makes incisions then wiggles things around - debatably true, but unnecessarily dismissive and reductive.
I know a PE who worked for a local trash disposal service* many years in the past. He always put something like "waste disposal and processing engineer" on his resume and mads it sound like he was dancing around the fact that he was a garbage truck driver. His clients would always ask about it as if he was a truck driver since it looked like an oddball in the context of his resume and he loved saying "Well no, I actually designed the facilities."
*Turns out low margin industries employ a surprising number of PEs so they can rubber stamp all their facilities projects in-house without getting bent over by whatever PE firm(s) is buddy-buddy with the municipality(s) they're operating in
They are licensed by the state they do business in, and are required to pass exams and take continuing education credits.
I don't even know what my title _is_ at work. I'm sure there's an entry in a db someplace, but so what? If anyone calls me anything it's usually an SME. If I'm talking to someone new I usually just say I work with computers and leave it at that.
I think the author just had a very specific problem. SAP surely has a similar problem when searching core developers and tons of SAP consultants show up.
But in the end they're just silly word and job titles and etc are already in a very murky place as far as relevance goes.
You can only know so much in depth.
For example, I have a TSA that manages our API gateway. They can't modify that application by updating it's codebase, but have the power to deploy stuff and write config scripts for it. As a developer, I manage a front end application, so I have the power to change the code for this application, but I don't have the power to deploy it and I don't really use it.
So I really think being a developer or not is based around what you have power over as an individual.
The word has changed meaning in that industry and it's not really my place to tell everyone they're wrong. I just need to be more descriptive when I talk about what I do.
Don't call yourself a developer unless you renovate or build properties.
Checkmate, I guess?